Picking up good vibrations for better health

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How can seniors easily increase muscle tone and bone density? Beyond drinking milk or taking Vitamin D supplements, perhaps a light exercise regime would do the trick. Or maybe, according to the latest issue of the journal Current Sports Medicine Reports, whole body vibration is the ticket.

Whole body vibration (WBV) involves quite simply standing on a mildly vibrating platform for a prescribed length of time, usually in a squat position. The simple but unconventional therapy is actually gaining credence in therapy circles, especially as a way to build bone density among older, more sedentary adults, say researchers at the University of Idaho. The vibrations also activate muscle fibers more efficiently than during regular exercise, they claim.

One study conducted by the research team had a group of 28 post-menopausal women submit to an eight-month WBV regime. Six one-minute cycles of the therapy three times a week was enough to noticeably increase bone density in the hip across the test group. While the therapy's effects on younger, healthier subjects are unlikely to provide much advantage, there is a strong likelihood that the WBV therapy will improve muscle performance and bone density among the elderly just as well as, if not better than, traditional therapy methods, researchers say.

They cautioned, however, that more research needs to be done and that individuals with high blood pressure or heart disease should refrain from the vibration therapy until more is known.